February 28, 2018 • Life for Leaders
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
These days, many things can lead us to doubt the truth of the Gospel, the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Enthusiastic atheists can make us wonder whether our faith is an obsolete remnant of a pre-scientific world. Scholars whose claims seem to undermine Christianity often get headlines and primetime interviews. A growing awareness of non-Christian religions suggests that faith in a single savior is arrogant. The corrosive impact of living in a postmodern culture makes us question the very notion of transcendent truth. And then there’s the fact that so many people who identify themselves as Christians live and speak in ways that bear little resemblance to the Gospel. Thus, we wonder: is the Gospel of Jesus Christ really true?
According to Ephesians 1:13, the answer to this question is “Yes!” This verse refers to “the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” The phrase translated here as “the message of truth” literally reads, “the word of truth.” In this context, it refers not to God’s written word (the Bible) or to the Word of God Incarnate (Jesus) but to the message that was proclaimed to the Ephesians, the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection. This message is true, both historically and theologically.
One who is steeped in postmodernism might point out that this message is not propositional truth so much as a moving story. In this story, those who were lost are found. Those who were imprisoned are set free. Those who were dead are made alive. This story brings to life the love of God for human beings. It can fill us with gratitude and joy. Indeed, the Gospel is a moving story, one that touches our hearts in a profound way.
But the Gospel is not just a moving story. It is also a true story. Jesus really was God Incarnate. Jesus really did die for us. Jesus really was raised from the dead, demonstrating God’s victory over sin and death. For the Christian, these are not just beautiful themes or powerful symbols. They are accurate statements that form the core of the Gospel. They not only move us, but also they demonstrate to us the love and grace of God. Thus, we stake our life, both in this world and the next, on “the message of truth, the gospel of our salvation.”
Something to Think About:
What, if anything, has caused you to wonder about whether the Gospel is really true or not?
What helps you to affirm the truth of the good news?
Something to Do:
Take time to consider and act on the following: If the Gospel of Jesus Christ is actually true, then how might this truth be reflected in your life? I’m not thinking here of what you say, though this is important. But I’m thinking of how you live. What might a Gospel-shaped life look like in your context?
Gracious God, sometimes it is not easy in this day to affirm the truth of the Gospel. We face many pressures that lead us to question, even to doubt the good news. Help us, we pray, to have confidence in you and your truth. Give us discerning minds and confident hearts.
I pray today for those who are struggling with doubt. Meet them in their questions, concerns, and worries. Lead them to resources that will help them to think clearly about matters of faith. Bring into their lives those who can lovingly and wisely help them to grasp and grow in the truth. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
God’s Grand Plan: A Theological Vision (Ephesians 1:1–3:21)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
Amen. Well said. Words for the road, today.
Reminds me of 1 Cor. 15:1-11. Thanks for bringing it to mind.
You’re welcome. Thanks for your comment.
I would posit what if all of these various religions have an element of truth in them. No doubt there are doctrinal differences as well as styles of worship that keep us apart, but I think most of that stem from the issue of how one gets to heaven (or whatever we call it). I think when we boil everything down to the basics, we start to see our commonality, as well as how truly amazing Jesus’ vision was (and is). I think it really boils down to how we live our lives and manifest the truth in our lives. Call me an idealist, but I think by truly living a life of integrity, love, forgiveness and grace that we can bring about a world in unity as He brings us together in unity under His love manifested in us.
Thanks, Tortoise, for your comment. Yes, Christianity does not claim to be the only source of truth. There is truth to be found elsewhere, in other religions and philosophies, in science and medicine, etc. Yet Christianity is unique in the claim of its founder to be the truth, not just the source of truth, but, in some sense, The Truth.
Absolutely! Only Jesus can bring all of these traditions that God prepared and bring them to fruition. It’s also amazing to note that He invites all of us to become truth (perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect), sort of like the Buddhist concept of becoming, but on a much more personal intimate way.
Why do the heathen rage and imagine vain things? The main reason I know that the Gospel is true is that evil people hate it so much. All of God’s requests are for our and others well being and benefit. One must realize that they are lost before they see the need to be found.
Yes. Hard to be found if you don’t think you’re lost. Thanks for your comment, Terry.